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Cat Ballou Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 9+

Wild West satire with strong heroine, but drinking humor.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the humor in this 1965 comedy is based almost entirely on outrageous drunkenness and sly sexual innuendo. The heroine takes the law into her own hands and leads a gang of con men and drunks on a criminal spree to avenge her father's murder. There are numerous action sequences, which include gunfights, brawls, murders, a train robbery -- none of them meant to be taken seriously. A young Native American hero is subjected to some racial taunting. Alcohol and cartoon-like drunkenness are pervasive.

  • Families can talk about the humor in this movie. What's funny about alcohol use and sexuality? Why are these topics the source of humor in so many movies? What message does this kind of humor send to kids and teens?
  • Talk about the stereotypes in this movie. How does Cat Ballou challenge or reinforce gender stereotypes? How is the Native American character portrayed?
  • How is the violence in the movie portrayed? Does the humor take the edge off the violence? What would the real consequences of the violence be?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: This comic film attempts to turn the traditional western into a farce. As a result, the messages are intentionally perverse. Drunkenness is a great source of humor and fun and has no serious consequences. Engaging in criminal behavior is an easy and successful way to get back at those who are evil. Law enforcement officers cannot be depended upon to act honorably; rather, they are corruptible and dishonest.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Heroes, as well as villains, rob trains, murder, seek revenge and generally misbehave. Cat Ballou is portrayed as a woman who initially is innocent, gullible, and easy prey but evolves into a strong, capable woman seeking justice and control over her own destiny. Her resolve falters only when she's distracted by a charming scoundrel. Kid Shelleen is a major drunk, whose behavior is the source of much humor.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: A majority of the action scenes, including those with gunplay, are played for humor and with a farcical tone. There is no blood, except for comic effect. There are fist fights and one brawl; a silly prison escape; a toupee is substituted for a scalping; gunshots careen out of control, breaking things and bouncing off walls. In one semi-serious scene the heroine’s father is shot down and killed. There is the threat of a hanging, but it’s never meant to be taken seriously.

  • sex false1

    Sex: There is some kissing, flirting, and lots of teasing innuendo which will probably go over the heads of most kids. A prisoner escapes from a law officer on a train and ducks into the bed of the very innocent heroine. He hides there leading to much sexual “miscommunication” and a clumsy attempt at seduction. A lecherous old man ogles some sexy women and Cat Ballou pretends to be a prostitute in order to trap him.

  • language false2

    Language: A few "damn"s and a young Native American is treated with disrespect, bullied by some, and called an “injun.”

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Drunkenness is major source of comedy. A leading character is a stumbling, incoherent, and semi-conscious drunkard. He constantly swigs whiskey from a flask or bottle and the audience watches as he gets drunker and drunker and finally passes out. Other characters also drink heavily; their speech is slurred; they fall; they misbehave. There is some cigar smoking.